Saturday, December 4, 2010

On The Boulevard: Hollywood & Highland Center Revives Boulevard

Courtyard facing north.
The Hollywood & Highland Center is the centerpiece in the redevelopment of this portion of Hollywood Boulevard. Over fifteen years ago, the area was a tired mix of run down buildings and shops. In 2001 after three years of construction, the 640,000 square feet entertainment complex opened bringing back some of the excitement and glamour of Hollywood.

All photos in this post are from my visit in 2009. Click here for the article with photos of the center during the holidays 2010.

The complex is anchored by the 3,400-seat Kodak Theatre, built to exclusively host the annual Oscars ceremony and the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. The striking feature of the center is the spacious three-story courtyard inspired by the D.W. Griffith film Intolerance. The towering archway and two pillars with elephant sculptures on the capitals, as seen in the film, give visitors an idea of the massive movie sets of the past. The archway is popular for an unobstructed view of the Hollywood sign.

Center front along Hollywood Blvd
With a balance of residents and visitors and continued improvements extending beyond this portion of Hollywood, the center could become the Times Square of Los Angeles or maybe at least "Hollywood Central".

Over 75 restaurants, shops and nightclubs dot all levels of the center. Among retailers are branches of The Gap, American Eagle, Sephora and Victoria's Secret. Restaurants include a Hard Rock Cafe and Rolling Stone LA.

Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
Entertainment awaits visitors to the Grauman's Chinese Theatre & Mann Chinese 6 Theatres and Lucky Strike Lanes. A visitor center has a helpful and well-informed staff with brochures and fliers for attractions and restaurants in the area.

The sidewalk in the front of the center is considered coveted real estate that the stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame are doubled up rather than placed in one straight line. For the true tourist at heart costumed characters parade in front in the center and for a tip will pose for photographs.

Grand Staircase
Kodak Theatre
With a Red Line subway stop beneath the center, metro L.A. is within easy access with Universal Studios just one stop away and downtown LA and the Music Center to the east. The center also includes a broadcast studio that opened in 2004 with the now defunct daily talk show "On Air With Ryan Seacrest".

The center has helped to attract development to the area. Next door is a branch of Madame Tussauds. Along Hollywood Boulevard is the historic El Capitan Theatre Center, now the destination for Disney movie premieres and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" tapings. Next door is the TV Guide Hollywood Center building. Among its tenants is an H&M, American Apparel and Hooters.

The architecture has been criticized for being confusing to navigate that some shops and restaurants may be difficult to find or easily bypassed. An escalator constructed in 2005 renovations helped to bring visitors directly from Hollywood Blvd to the third level of the courtyard. Don't forget to head to the fourth level for a wide view of Hollywood Boulevard.

Archway with bridges to view Hollywood Sign
More info at Parking is $2 for four hours with validation or a daily maximum of $10. Pick up the Elephant Card at the visitor information center or register online for special offers to center shops and restaurants. The center hours is Mon-Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 10am-7pm. Theaters, clubs and some restaurants have extended hours before opening and after closing.

Courtyard facing south
View of Hollywood Hills from archway bridge 
Twin elephants.


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